Maybe the best part about bowl season, at least if you’re one of the players, is all the free stuff. Every bowl trip means extra practice and often it involves travel during the holidays, but hey, free stuff, man! Under NCAA rules, bowl games are allowed to hand out hundreds of dollars’ worth of gifts, in varying degrees of quality. (Quality is not mandated, unfortunately.)
According to Sports Business Journal, NC State and Vanderbilt players will enjoy a gift suite, a Timely Watch Company watch (whatever that is), a New Era skullcap, and a commemorative football. All courtesy of the good folks at the Independence Bowl.
That’s not a bad haul, though a lot depends on what exactly is in the gift suite. (A lot of bowl games do this gift suite thing. Maybe it’s better than a spending spree at Belk, but really, who knows.)
Now that I’ve perused the entire list of freebies, I’m going to rank the top five best and top five worst.
Best bowl season freebies:
(1) $300 Vanilla Visa gift card. See, now here is a bowl game truly head and shoulders above the rest. These folks get it. The Peach Bowl just says “here, take 300 dollars and do whatever.” This is much better than, say, offering a $300 Microsoft gift card (which the Russell Athletic Bowl is doing). If you want to buy 300 bucks’ worth of Microsoft stuff (gotta get that new Excel, fam) then great, but point is, you don’t have to.
(2) $305 Best Buy gift card. Video games! Headphones! Phone phones! And maybe a new printer? Well, all these options are yours thanks to the Citrus Bowl.
(3) Iconic gift. That’s vague, but it’s given out at the national title game so it’s probably pretty good.
(4) EA Sports video game. I place this here provisionally, as it is unclear if the players get to choose which game they get. I mean, if everyone is stuck with NHL ‘04 then this is a major bummer, but I’d imagine this would be pretty popular if everyone could get the latest Madden. Still, you’re doin’ some fine work here, Citrus Bowl.
(5) Personalized bobblehead doll. The Gator Bowl promises each player a bobblehead doll made in their likeness, including their name and number. That’s a unique keepsake that will end up buried in a box in your attic within five years, but think of all the several weeks you’d spend at your desk exclaiming “cool!” as you tapped the head of your own you bobblehead.
Terrible bowl game gifts:
(1) Rock ‘Em Apparel socks. I assume these will be customized for each team but still, socks? What are you, Quick Lane Bowl, America’s mom?
(2) “A variety of New Era products.” I like baseball hats and they make good baseball hats, but this sounds terrible. That’s the beginning and the end of the list of stuff you get from the Pinstripe Bowl. Never take your team to the Pinstripe Bowl.
(3) Oculus Pro Team HD binoculars. Binoculars, huh. I’m sure these things are not cheap but what the heck do you expect these kids to do with datgone BINOCULARS, Liberty Bowl? “The kids are all into birding tours and safaris these days, boss, trust me on this.” No, the kids are all into putting this shit on ebay. (So maybe this is actually a great gift?)
(4) Bass Pro Shops shopping trip. Somebody at the Liberty Bowl was drunk when they came up with their list of offerings, man. I am willing to bet that your typical Bass Pro Shops has some stuff for just about everyone, but never having been in one myself, I just typed this sentence to reassure myself. If you’re Willie Young, this is basically the best bowl game gift in history. If you’re like 87% of all other college football players, though, it’s another story. You could get those binoculars you’ve always wanted, at least.
(T5) Selfie stick. Maybe my girlfriend will want this?
(T5) Coin. What the fuck. This shit ain’t even legal tender.
(T5) Football. Coach got like 500 footballs at practice I don’t need more footballs, I already play football every day and as such have to use footballs to football every day. The hell with footballs.
(T5) Dri-Fit longsleeve shirt. Coach already got me 500 of these during recruiting.
(T5) Athletic performance pullover. OH FOR THE LOVE OF